Marquee striker Marc Janko scored in a record-equalling sixth-straight match as Sydney FC edged out a brave Newcastle Jets 1-0 at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Janko, who now has 13 goals for the season, pounced on a Jets defensive error midway through the second half to give the Sky Blues all three points.
While it wasn’t their most impressive performance of the campaign, the result was enough to see Sydney FC jump up to second on the Hyundai A-League ladder for at least 24 hours, with the other sides around them all in action on Saturday.
WHAT THEY SAID
“I cannot repeat it often enough but for me team success is more important than personal goals. I’m just glad we could finish the deal today because it was a tough game.” – Sydney FC striker Marc Janko.
“I thought we were right in the game, possibly even on top for long periods, but it’s just one of those games where a little lapse in concentration is all it takes and they took their advantage and got the goal.” – Jets midfielder Zenon Caravella
0-1 Janko (68’) - Jets defender Lee Ki-Je got caught in possession in his own half allowing Janko to pounce on the loose ball and race into the box. A diving challenge from Daniel Mullen looked to dispossess the Austrian but it actually took the ball past Ben Kennedy giving Janko a simple finish.
Sydney won a free-kick in a dangerous position just on the half hour mark, with Milos Dimitrijevic’s curling delivery picking out an unmarked Sebastian Ryall about eight yards from goal. Ryall’s header beat Ben Kennedy but slammed onto the crossbar and out before Marc Janko’s strike deflected wide off Daniel Mullen. Replays showed the ball struck the Jets defenders arm but referee Matthew Conger adjudged it accidental with the visitors forced to settle for a corner rather than a penalty.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Janko’s goal means he has now scored in a record six consecutive matches, equaling the mark set by Besart Berisha. Of the 13 goals Janko has this season, 10 have now come in away matches. It’s also the first time this season the Sky Blues have won a match when being held scoreless in the first half. The shut-out by Sydney FC means they have now gone 451 minutes without conceding a goal in matches against the Jets.
Jets midfielder Mitch Cooper got the home fans out of their seats 12 minutes before the break with a fantastic piece of play. Winning the ball on half way, Cooper surged forward and managed to keep possession despite being harassed by Sydney’s Terry Antonis. He wriggled free, pirouetted and kept going but unfortunately could only drag his shot wide from 25 yards out. While the movement didn’t amount to anything in the end, it was a demonstration of all of Cooper’s power, pace and quality and lit up an otherwise dour first half.
The Jets almost gifted Sydney a goal five minutes after the break when Scott Neville’s suicidal back-pass to his ‘keeper went straight to the in-form Janko. Luckily for the Jets skipper Kennedy was quick to react, coming out quickly to block Janko’s effort, save Neville’s blushes and ensure the right-back didn’t face the wrath of coach Phil Stubbins.
Jets defender Taylor Regan was forced off just before half-time after appearing to sustain a nasty cork just above his right knee after a heavy collision with Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant.
THE FINAL WORD
Newcastle will have the chance to play spoilers to Melbourne City’s top six hopes as they travel to AAMI Park to take on John van ‘t Schip’s men next Saturday night, while Sydney FC return to Allianz Stadium for another match which will have finals ramifications against champions Brisbane Roar.
Newcastle Jets: Kennedy, Neville, Mullen, Regan (Gallagher 42’), Ki-Je, Kantarovski, Caravella, Alivodic, Cooper (Lundy 81’), Hoole, Montano (Pavicevic 74’)
Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Grant, Ryall, Jurman, Petkovic, Antonis (Calver 92’), Dimitrijevic, Ibini (Smeltz 69’), Brosque, Naumoff (Stambolziev 60’), Janko
Scorers: Janko 68’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Ki-Je 49’, Antonis 61’, Ryall 82’
Conditions: 23C, Dry
Attendance: 8783 @ Hunter Stadium